A Heart for God’s Poor Ones
Adapted from a prayer prepared by Sister Regina Bechtle, Sister of Charity of New York
As we celebrate the feast of Elizabeth Seton, a great woman of Charity, let us listen with our hearts to the Good News that Christ’s coming reveals.
The angel said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has anointed me, has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor and a day of vindication by our God. (Isaiah 61: 1-2a)
The Christmas season was always a special time for Elizabeth Seton. She loved to reflect on the lessons of the Christmas manger – among them, the Good News of discovering Christ in those who live in poverty and on the margins.
“‘Deal your bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and those without shelter to your house’…poor, forlorn, despised, the son of Mary and the Carpenter, born on a journey and laid in a manger, in the neglected place, out of the inn ‘where they found no room,’ traveling in a foreign land, and coming back unknown and poor still, not having anywhere to lay his head, and living on the care of friends – How well could he call every poorest one another himself? How will you…sacredly view their adoption by him, his presence in them? You then who love him, love them.” – Elizabeth Bayley Seton Collected Writings IIIa: 354-355, language adapted & emphasis added
Where have you found Good News during this Christmas season?
How have you seen and heard it, touched and tasted it?
Who has been the bearer of Good News to you?
What Good News have you brought, shared, spread? To whom?
Thoughts from the Vincentian Family
Read now the words of two bearers of Good News from our Vincentian Family, spoken during the October 2017 Vincentian Family Symposium in Rome.
Peggy O’Neill, SCNJ: “The life of God does not just belong to God alone. Everything is holy; everything is connected…there are no strangers. This must become our mantra, the Vincentian mantra: there are no strangers….To be human is to have open arms: to embrace, to build, to heal, to let the life force pass through us and meet the very life force of the other. But to be human is also to make fists in the face of those structures that rob people of their humanity, that indicate they are not wanted or do not deserve rights, dignity, a safe place to live and grow.”
Tomas Mavric, CM Superior General: “To see the ‘face of Jesus’ clearly before our eyes, to grow in charity, to be convincing followers of the Vincentian Charism it is of utmost importance for us: to live a deeply spiritual life…., to combine prayer and action in all we do….to discover and see Jesus in the poor and the poor in Jesus.……. Let us seek, together, new and creative ways to come to the assistance of the Poor. Our efforts, struggles, and common dreams cannot stop until Charity is globalized…”
Some Ways You Can Take Action and “Globalize Charity”
1. During National Migration Week, Jan. 7-13, pray with and for migrants and bring their needs before your legislators – https://justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/national-migration-week/ and https://www.sharejourney.org/resource-library/#prayers-for-migrants-and-refugees
2. Seek out a nearby school that serves poor children or teenagers. Donate books to their library; offer to tutor or mentor a student.
3. Learn more about conditions and needs in another part of the world where members of the Sisters of Charity Federation serve. www.sistersofcharityfederation.org
4. Find out more about those victimized by human trafficking, and groups working to help Survivors. Before the Super Bowl, raise awareness about this crime. Write a notice for your parish bulletin or local newspaper. https://sistersofcharityfederation.org/human-trafficking/
5. Donate time or resources to the Federation-sponsored House of Charity in New Orleans, or to another project that helps those who lack shelter. https://www.facebook.com/House-of-Charity-New-Orleans-434539956626837/